Runcorn Linnets manager Dave Wild has expressed his excitement ahead of this weekend’s playoff showdown with Workington.
Linnets host the Reds at the APEC Taxis Stadium as they look to make it three wins in three in all competitions, two in the Northern Premier League.
The shrugged off their torrid run of form with a win over Skelmersdale United and backed it up with a 3-1 win over Newcastle Town.
This weekend’s encounter comes at a good time for Linnets, a month after a dark cloud was cast following a spell of no league win in seven. However, they remained in the playoff places despite the poor form and their win against Richard Brodie’s side kept them ahead of the chasing back.
Now they welcome Danny Grainger’s side who are looking to claw away at their deficit with Leek Town as they look to push Macclesfield at the top. However, they enter the match on the back of a 1-0 defeat to Bootle – which ended their 11-match unbeaten run.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” Wild told Off The Park. “I’ve said it from the start Workington, for me, are the best team in the league, I watched them a few weeks ago against Mossley, they’ve got a specific style of play that suits them.
“It’s going to be a tough fixture, it’s an opportunity for us to try get back a bit of a gap from the chasing pack, Mossley are playing Clitheroe this weekend – that’s a big fixture for the playoff pack – and us against Workington.
“There’s 11 games left, we just need to get there and get as many points as we can and get into the playoffs which was the ambition at the start of the season.
“It’s going to be tough, we’re prepared for it, I’m glad we’re playing Workington at the end of this spell and not where we were four, five, six weeks ago because it would’ve been harder task. I’m looking forward to it, these are the games we do it for, roll on Saturday.
“Over the moon, I thought we were the better team over 90 minutes, I don’t think they landed a glove on us,” the Linnets boss added on their 3-1 win over Newcastle Town thanks to goals from Lewis Doyle, Ryan Brooke and Oliver McFadyen. “I thought we were back to our rigid and solid defensive structure which is what we’ve built ourselves on over the course of the season.
“We’ve been a bit sloppy, switched off and an individual error made us go 1-0 down but going behind really galvanised us. I think it was one of the better things to have happened on the day and we had to roll our sleeves up, which we haven’t been doing over the Christmas period, and got our just rewards and equalised within 40 seconds.
“That shows us as a group, we’re a top group of lads, we got over the line in the end, it was a good, honest, hard-working performance and that’s ultimately, what we discussed at the back end of our run, we hadn’t been rolling up our sleeves and leaving it all on the pitch. That was the most pleasing part for me.
“There’s been a lot of games during our winless run and we’ve had a lot of criticism, some of it just, a lot of it was unjust,” he added after following up on their midweek win over Skem. “The lads had done enough for me over the course of the season to warrant being backed more than what they did – I think they’ve been caned by some quarters – I’m really pleased for the lads.
“They’ve had a rough patch in terms of confidence, self-belief but what I will categorically stand behind is that at no point did I not think we’ll come out the other side of it and fix things. I’m glad it was the bulk of the squad that lost the first game in that run that was the group that got us out of it.
“We seem in a much better place now. Training has been more positive and uplifting, it was a tough learning curve, the first time we’ve been on a bad run so it’s something to learn from and make sure we don’t end up in again.”
They were also in action in midweek as they edged out North West Counties side, who are fourth in the form table in the Premier Division after four wins in six, thanks to an 89th-minute goal from Tom Moore. Wild expressed his intentions to taste Senior Cup success in Linnets’ return to the competition since their reformation but felt Colin McDonald’s side didn’t deserve to lose in the manner they did.
He continued: “Listen, I want to win it. If we’re playing in it, I want to win it. It’s as simple as that. I’ve never ever denied stuff like that, when we’re in the competition, I want to win it. We fielded a younger squad, we got our dual-registration lads game time and if I’m honest, I thought we were atrocious on the day.
“We’ve done what we needed to do, find a way to win and we’re in to the semi-final which was the objective on the day. If we perform like that against Workington, we’ll get absolutely destroyed, some people stuck their neck out and impressed me.
“Isaac Turner was man-of-the-match and was absolutely outstanding. He’s had a tough year for multiple reasons, to come in at centre-back and put on that performance was a personal highlight for me but the overall performance was really poor.
“The difference in league means nothing to me in cup competitions because you get 90 minutes to go, stake a claim and prove a point.
“I thought Litherland REMYCA were really good, they didn’t deserve to lose how they did, they scored at a time they did and deserved a penalty shootout. Thankfully we rolled our sleeves up and pulled our finger out. I feel harsh on them but that’s the game, unfortunately.”